Toddler adoption is NOT the same thing as infant adoption, but it is also quite different from adopting a school aged child.

Toddler adoption is not the same as infant or older child adoption.

Adopted toddlers are caught in between–old enough to understand that everything is different, but not old enough to understand why, and without the language to express their confusion.

All children register the changes and losses brought by adoption, but infants, especially newborns, are less aware, and older kids can  be prepared, at least to some degree, for the impending changes. A child that is just beginning to walk and talk is caught in between. They certainly know that their world is being turned upside down, but they don’t have the language to express their confusion and sadness, nor the cognitive ability to process what is happening. All they know is that nothing is as it should be.

Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft

I loved this interview with Mary Hopkins-Best, author  of Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft. The interview was first recorded in 2008, but is spot on for today’s parents adopting kids between the ages of one and four.


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She originally wanted to title her book “Forged Steel: Adopting a Toddler” because these little beings go through the hottest fire, but the resulting attachment can be so strong. Beautiful analogy, if not so great a title.

Mantra for Adoptive Parents

Every child and every adoptive parent is different, thus every adoption is different. No single trick exists to guarantee an easy adjustment for the child or the parent. Gradual transitions are best, but not always possible. If I had to share just one piece of advice for families adopting toddlers, I would suggest simplifying your life once home and establishing routines and structures for the day. You won’t be wedded to these routines for life, but at the beginning  they provide your child with predictability when everything in her life feels very very out of control.

If you adopted a child between one and four, how was the transition? What worked to make it smoother?

Image credit: A.MASH

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